Children did not have to remind their parents before they took them to school on the first day. They saw it as a responsibility for them and a right for you. Hence, they expect that they meet up to their expectation as regards your academic achievement. However, it is important to note that apart from the financial role that they play, there are roles and responsibilities that must be put into action to assist their wards to achieve academic success.
Parental involvement or engagement not only enhances academic performance but also leaves a positive influence on student attitude and behaviour towards life in general. Parent engagement is simply when parents and teachers share a responsibility to help their children learn and meet educational goals. Parent engagement happens when teachers involve parents in school meetings or events, and parents volunteer their support at home and at school. In this way, they make a commitment. Paying attention to your ward’s education is beyond the preschool level.
Parental involvement should be at all age levels. Many believe or make the mistake of assuming that when a child gets to senior high school or the university, he or she is mature enough to take care of himself, but research proves otherwise. Studies have shown that the involvement of parents of middle and high school students is equally important and it has a significant bearing on the overall performance of the student in school and after school. The stories of dropouts, touts and other social ills amongst younger children would be reduced, probably rarely seen if parents pay attention to every part of their children’s life till they are old enough to handle it themselves.
A child can even have the confidence to consider going to college and taking it more seriously when parents show interest in the child’s academic achievements, talk with the child about the benefits of a college education and give the child the space to share their feelings and thoughts about academic and other social issues bothering them in school. In fact, teachers also benefit from parental involvement because when parents show interest in their ward’s performance, some of the challenges in the classrooms are reduced and even appreciated as they can relate to the challenges the teachers face in the classroom. For instance, parents would make sure their kid’s study their books and do their homework, so their grades can improve and less work for the teacher. Parents develop a greater appreciation for the challenges that teachers face in the classroom.
Parents also get a form of satisfaction too because they are also involved in the activities of their education and future. They have a better understanding of the school curriculum and activities and can tell if they are comfortable with the quality of education their child is receiving. Gonzalez-Pienda and other researchers in 2002 revealed that parental support criteria were developed according to six dimensions that are strongly associated with students’ behaviour at school and the attitude towards learning. “The six dimensions are:
- parents’ expectations about their children’s achievement,
- parents’ expectations about their children’s capacity to achieve important goals,
- parents’ behaviours that reveal interest in their children’s school work,
- parents’ degree of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with their children’s level of school achievement,
- parents’ level and type of help provided when their children do homework, and
- parents’ reinforcement behaviours of their children’s achievements.
However, it is also true that the nature of parental support changes at different age levels of children because as they advance in age, they begin to take responsibility for themselves. A study indicated that those students whose parents have high expectations for their ward’s academic activities performed better from the beginning of their academic career and accelerated faster in their academic progress during the transition period of middle school to higher institutions. Some studies also further show that a parent’s participation in a child’s education may inspire the parent to further his or her own education.
In this article, we would discuss the roles and responsibilities of parents in a student’s academic success:
1. Valuable Time
This has been found out to be one of the major reasons why parents do not participate in their children’s education- Lack of time. It is the responsibility of the children to give adequate time to their children until they are old enough to take care of themselves. Parents must have time to visit the schools, speak with the teachers, communicate with their children and check their grades. A research was carried out to ascertain the performance of children of working mothers and Housewives. The study revealed that the kids of the housewives do better academically since they have the time for them which a career woman would rather not have. Social vices can also be linked to the inability of parents to pay attention to the academic and social affairs of their wards. Hence, it is important that parents dedicate a considerable amount of time during the week and weekends to their academic activities. It breeds trusts and openness between both parties.
2. Enrolment in Quality and Affordable Schools
Better educational opportunities have been linked to academic performances. It is the responsibility of a parent to make sure their wards have access to quality education. It is expected that the type of school a student enrols is determined by the parents. Therefore, the onus lies on the parents to carefully research and discover schools that reflect the goals and aspirations of their wards and at the same time affordable. Note that the more prestigious the school does not necessarily have any effect on the performance or academic success of the school. There are countless stories of great men and women who only attended public schools, but are very relevant in the school. It boils down to the goal and mindset of the student in question. And that can be shaped by the parents
3. Emotional Support systems
Young adults also go through one emotional or psychological stress at one point in their lives and the response of a parent to their offspring’s emotion while they are younger influences their ability to deal with stressful situations as young adults. It is assumed that an individual’s ability to handle an emotional crisis in school, amongst peers is dependent on the strategies adopted by the parent while the child in question was younger. Parents should give their children the liberty to express their emotions-both negative and positive. They would most certainly produce children who are able to communicate their feelings confidently in the open and within. A study was conducted by Jinhong Guo, Sylvie Mrug and David Knight of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. It was aimed to investigate the gender and ethnic differences between parental emotion socialization and physiological and psychological responses to stress and 973 young adults took part in the study where they completed a social stress test and were measured for heart rate, blood pressure and salivary cortisol. The results revealed that individuals with emotionally supportive parents were able to put more effort into overcoming the stressor while emotionally unsupportive parents resulted in increased negativity during the stress test. Therefore, when parents and other caregivers are able to support their young children, their lives are enriched and this is an advantage to their school activities and society. Parents can achieve this by asking questions, being observant and creating an atmosphere for effective communication.
4. Financial or Economic Support
It is believed that since parents do not have a direct influence of their ward’s learning activities, they are expected to provide financial and other material support and the level of support is dependent on the financial stance of the parent. For instance, a parent with very low economic status would most likely enrol the student to a public school where they can afford the fees. This, however, cannot be overemphasized, but it is actually beyond paying school fees and it is the most crucial part of being a parent. It is important that parents make adequate plans for their children’s school and total well-being. Research has revealed that adolescents that still have parents that plan to pay their fees have a direct effect on the performance of the adolescents in school. A student who is financially secure and does not have to be bothered about when to pay school fees or how to get finance to settle other pressing needs like books, groceries etc. would most certainly be able to concentrate and perform better in school than a student who struggles to meet end meets. Even though there are obvious socio-economic differences in every family, it is important that parents pledge financial support for their wards in their academic pursuits.
5. Build a relationship with the school owners or teachers
It is the responsibility of any parent to know and create cordial relationships with the teachers of their wards irrespective of class or level, though this might reduce as the student advances in class and age. For instance, a parent of a university student might just have one of the lecturers in the department as a guardian. This gives the student a sense of responsibility and caution. The two-way communication between the students and the teachers is mutually beneficial in the sense that, by having more contact with parents, teachers learn more about students’ needs and home environment, which is information they can apply toward better meeting those needs. This implies for secondary and primary school levels. Parents who establish relationships with the teachers also tend to have more positive views of teachers, which can result in improved teacher morale. This can be achieved through Parent conferences, Parent-teacher organizations, Phone calls, Parent newsletters, Workshops for parents, E-mail or school website. However, there should be clarity and consistency in this type of communication or else the goal would be defeated.
6. Monitor the Academic Progress
Parents have a big role in tracking the academic activities and progress of their wards irrespective of level. It is not just the responsibility of the parent as many have wrongly presumed. The William and Mary School of Education provided a list of evaluation questions parents can ask to monitor the progress of their wards.
- What are the Standards of Learning (SOLs) my child is expected to know at this grade level?
- How can I help my child prepare for tests at home?
- Is my child using the accommodations/modifications outlined in his/her educational plan? Do they continue to be appropriate?
- Could you clarify my child’s progress or lack of progress in more detail? Could a mid-year meeting be scheduled? I would like to share with teachers what I see at home and would like to gather information about what they see in school.
- What remediation or supplemental services are available for my child after school or during the school day?
- What is the best way for us to share information and feedback about my child’s academic and social progress (e.g., phone, e-mail, student planners) in addition to the annual planning meetings?
- Should my child be included in educational planning meetings?
- How might I help reinforce school rules and expected classroom behaviours?
7. Effective Communication
This is a more crucial role for parents. Communication is key in any relationship. Parents can ascertain the feelings, choice and challenges a student by simply communication. That is why it is important that parents create a conducive atmosphere for effective communication. As a student grows academically, other areas of their lives grow too and they are making critical life decisions. It is therefore important that parents have listening ears, avoid criticisms or judgemental statements etc. They feel comfortable, free and can share anything even about their academic and emotional challenges when they have parents that can share in their burden. It creates bonds and builds confidence which can boost academic performance.
In summary, apart from financial commitments, parents have other vital roles to play in the academic activities and performance of their wards irrespective of levels. They must create a conducive atmosphere for communication, monitor academic progress, be emotional support systems and enrol them in quality and safe schools.